Beth stormed out of Tim and Mary’s house at vamp speed, heading for the trees. She was so angry with Mick that for a bit she couldn’t even see straight. He didn’t believe her, believe that she could taste the apple butter or coffee. He said as much in front of the others, embarrassing her and then angering her. She ran for a few minutes, finding herself in a part of the forest that she wasn’t familiar with. She jumped into the canopy, being careful as to where she jumped this time and then climbed higher still. She perched on a sturdy branch and sucked in a few deep breaths, trying to calm herself down.
humiliating, his inability to believe what she could do. He was her
husband; he knew that she didn’t lie about things to him, how could he
not accept what she said? She wiped a few tears off of her cheeks and
blinked in the bright light. She wasn’t in direct sunlight, but it was
bright and her skin felt warm, maybe a bit too warm. She looked around,
to the south was the mountains, towering over the land and to the east a
bird’s eye view of Seattle proper. It was quiet and should be soothing
to her, but it wasn’t. Her heart hurt; if Mick didn’t believe her then
Suddenly she caught his scent and she looked down.
He was standing below the tree, looking up at her. He looked sad she
thought and for a moment she felt guilty because she knew that he had
worried about her, until he found her. She truly didn’t mean to scare
him but she needed some space.
“Do you mind if I come up there with you?” he asked.
“Yes, I do mind. Mick, I need some time. Go away.”
He looked down and shook his head almost imperceptibly. “Beth, do you know where you are? How to find the house?”
wanted to be able to tell him yes, but she honestly couldn’t. She
thought she had run south, but she wasn’t sure. She couldn’t see Tim
and Mary’s house or their house. She knew she had probably run several
miles but run to where? As much as she hated to admit it, she needed
directions. When she told him he didn’t mock her or make fun of her,
simply told her what she needed to know.
He pointed to the left
and said, “You are northwest of the property, you need to head back this
way, about three miles. At that point you should recognize where you
are. Beth, please be careful when you get out of that tree and come
home to me, so we can talk.”
“In a while Mick. I’ll be careful.”
He made a show of walking away, but she knew better; he was out there,
keeping watch over her. He might doubt her ability to taste things,
but he loved her and would make sure she was safe.
Mick walked a ½
mile away and then doubled back being sure to stay within the cover of
the trees. He kept his footsteps quiet as he got close enough to see
the tree where she was perched, even if he couldn’t see her. When she
climbed down he would see it and know that she was safe.
worried about her; this insistence that she could taste food was
dangerous for her. She was so happy to be a vamp but clinging to the
trappings of humanity was something she had to move past; he just had to
find a way to help her.
“Josef, its Logan. I thought you might like an update on Katrina.”
“Only if it’s good news Logan. Well, I suppose any news is good news. What do you have?”
it’s not the best news but it is a development. She tried to access
her island bank account from an anonymous proxy server. It wouldn’t let
her in of course because we changed her password, but we had put a ping
on it so that we’d know if she tried.”
“What the hell is an
anonymous proxy server? Speak English Logan.” Josef scowled as he
listened to the young vampire. What he wanted to hear was that they
knew exactly where Katrina was so that they could end her.
anonymous server makes it possible to hide your location; in other
words, it shows a false IP address that can’t be tracked. Mostly…”
“What the hell do you mean ‘mostly’? Does that mean you can still find her?”
maybe get a general location. Each anonymous server has a base
location and generally, it has IP numbers that it creates. If we can
use that number to find the anonymous server, we can maybe backtrack
their log ins to find where it was accessed from.”
“And that will work?”
it’s a shot. Ryder is working on it as we speak. We are sure it is a
South American server and since that’s where he is it might be a bit
easier for him.”
“Okay, okay. Let me know? Oh, did you help Colleen?”
got a good start on it. The most complicated thing will be getting
those transcripts from the university. I’m creating false documents so
that Audrey’s neighbor can go in and request copies of her transcripts.
She’s the right age and thinks it’s a ‘lark’ which I assume means a
caper or something. Anyway, she will go and get them and we can figure
out where Colleen stands.”
“Good, thank you Logan, I appreciate
your hard work,” Josef said, ending the call. Things were starting to
fall into place; now if Katrina could just fall into their hands things
would be great.
Beth sat up in that tree for several hours, until sunset. She didn’t mean to stay so long, but she got lost in her thoughts.
understood why Mick and everyone else would doubt that she could taste
things; vampires lose that ability when they are turned but for some
reason, strange and unbelievable as it was she could actually taste.
And she still didn’t feel sick either. She had performed the ‘blind’
taste test with Mick watching and then they had tested her on pear
butter and the apple butter; she nailed it every time.
taste. Why she didn’t know, but bottom line was, she could. What it
meant in vampire terms she couldn’t even begin to guess.
some strange sort of vampire? Did it have to do with the fact that she
had blood from 3 different vampires in her? Coraline was AO-, as she
was, maybe that had something to do with it? But Mick had Coraline’s
blood as well and he couldn’t taste anything so that probably wasn’t it.
She didn’t know and honestly, it made her head hurt to think about it.
looked around and saw that it was late, the sun had set and all she
could see were stars. Vampire vision could be deceptive; night time
could look like daylight but she knew that down amongst the trees it
would be darker. She knew she had to go now and get back because Mick
was undoubtedly worried about why she was up in the tree so long.
Providing that she could actually find the way home and suddenly, she
wasn’t so sure she could.
Mick sat at the base of a tall tree about 200 yards away from Beth.
and Beth had both pondered the same subject this evening; her ability
to taste food. Whether that was a real ability or only perceived was
He’d been a vamp for 50 odd years and never in all
that time had he meant one that could taste anything other than blood.
Was it ever possible he wondered or was she trying to hang on to her
humanity by the claims? What could even be worse was that she didn’t
taste things but imagined that she did.
He was worried and afraid
that he was not doing his job as her sire but how did he fight
something like this? She believed she could, he believed she couldn’t; a
clear line was being drawn and he only wanted to make it all go away.
could just tell her he believed her; that was the simple thing to do.
If he did, would she know somehow? Could she taste his lie to her? It
would certainly make him feel guilty and that might be discernable in
He didn’t want to hurt her; he did want to support her. All he had to do was find the way to do that.
was growing darker by the minute and he was starting to get concerned.
It might be difficult for her to find her way back during the day, but
at night it would be worse. He got up and moved as close as he dared,
staying out of hearing and he hoped scenting distance. He could hear
the tree rustling and realized that Beth was moving down it. The
thought made him happy because it meant that she wasn’t trying to jump
the fifty some odd feet down to the ground. He stood hidden among the
shadows and trees when he picked up a scent that wasn’t Beth’s.
Suddenly, the game changed and he knew she was in danger.
got to a low branch and decided to make the jump down to the ground.
She was still a bit cautious after yesterday’s broken leg. Even though
it had healed quickly, it had still hurt terribly. She decided that she
may be an impetuous and inexperienced vampire but she definitely was
not a brave one. No more broken bones for her.
At about 15 feet
above the ground she decided to make the jump, landing smoothly onto
the pine needle littered ground; she landed in a squat with her back to
the tree. As she prepared to stand up and brush her butt off since
there were bits of dirt and bark clinging to it she looked towards what
she hoped was the correct direction and then caught a scent on the air
that she didn’t recognize.
She lifted her head and inhaled deeply
and tried reaching out with her mind to see if she could figure out
what it was and where it was. She couldn’t hear a heartbeat so it
wasn’t that close, but her sense of it was that it was big. A bear
maybe or cougar or wolf? They were all indigenous to the area Mick had
told her. And all of them big enough that they might not be intimidated
by the smell of a vampire.
She closed her eyes and listened
as she scented the air; there was a musky, acrid smell to it, it was
definitely an animal. If she could figure out what type she might know
what to do. If it were a wolf, she could climb the tree and wait for
Mick to come for her. She still knew that he was out there; probably
already aware of what was happening. If it were a cougar or bear,
climbing the tree was out of the question because they could climb as
easily as she could.
Think Beth, think!
tried to work his way around closer to Beth without disturbing the
cougar mom and her two cubs. The cubs made her especially dangerous
because if she thought they were threatened there would be no holding
The cougars don’t usually come this close to people but
he was sure that Beth’s vampire scent brought out the predator; it
wasn’t afraid of her apparently. Would it be content to keep its
distance? That might depend on what Beth did. He had to get to her
Moving as silently as possible so that he didn’t disturb
Beth or the mother cougar he circled around the back side of the trees.
So far Beth was staying still so she must have scented the cougar. He
didn’t dare speak to her yet, but he prayed to whatever god was out
there to keep her safe.
Suddenly he heard the cougar scream and
take a few steps forward. It sliced through the air and he knew he was
going to have to move fast.
shriek that split the air scared her, sending shivers up her spine. It
was a cougar so that meant the tree wasn’t safe. And it was closer as
well because she could hear its heartbeat now. Maybe a second and third
one as well – could be a mother cougar and cubs, which just made it all
She could survive a fight with it, she was sure, but it
would be terrible and she didn’t want to do it. She also didn’t want to
leave a couple of cubs motherless. She tried to wrack her brain for
information on cougars. Female cougars could be up to 150 pounds or so,
big. They were powerful with massively strong jaws and razor sharp
teeth, the better to eat you with. What would happen if the cougar
drank some of her blood?
A question she didn’t know the answer
to. She closed her eyes again and reached out for Mick; he was near
now, she knew. She just didn’t know where and she didn’t know where the
cougar was either. When she opened her eyes she had the answer to one
of the questions.
The cougar was standing about 20 feet away,
hidden in the shadows but its glowing golden eyes shimmered in the dim
nightscape. She might have to make a run for it but she didn’t want to
make any sudden moves.
She stared to stand, scooting up with her
back against the tree, coming up a couple of inches and then pausing,
waiting to see what the cougar did. It watched her unblinkingly and let
out a screech. Beth might be a vampire, but her heart was pounding now
and she was shaking like a leaf. Another couple of inches and the
cougar stepped closer to her while continuing the screams.
curse word she knew ran through her head as she fought off panic. She
had to get herself under control and she tried to take some deep breaths
in an effort to facilitate that.
She stayed put for a minute or
so, calming herself and hoping that the cougar understood that she
meant it no harm. A few more inches and she was nearly standing fully
erect. The cougar crept closer, still making threatening and
frightening sounds. Beth wanted to dart behind the tree, but she knew
the sudden move would be a mistake.
Where the hell was Mick?
was about 15 feet directly behind her, but he still didn’t want to say
anything because while Beth could hear him, so could the cougar. The
female had moved closer still to Beth, still not attacking but not
backing down either. Beth was slowly coming upright and that was good
because it would make it quicker to get away. Mick knew they could out
run the cougar because she wouldn’t leave the cubs alone and they
couldn’t keep up. A few more feet and he would speak to her in vamp
“Beth, I’m behind you about 10 feet. When you feel me
touch you on your right shoulder, step around the tree and grab my hand;
we’re going to run baby.”
“What? No, it will catch us!” she said, terrified of trying to outrun the desperate mother cougar.
“No, it won’t. Please baby, trust me and just do as I say, okay? Okay Beth?”
she told him, her voice shaking badly. The cougar was now only a dozen
or so feet from them and her knees were a trembling mess. If she were
still human she would have peed her pants by now.
whispered and she felt his hand on her shoulder. It crept down and she
felt his it clasp hers and she turned suddenly, following him as he
rushed away at vamp speed. They ran for several minutes before he
stopped and listened; nothing was following them.
Beth wanted to
collapse from the drama but they started running again and in a few
minutes they were at the house. Relief flooded over her and then the
tears came, rolling down her pale cheeks in great rivulets. She was
shaking and humiliated that she had yet again gotten into trouble
because she wouldn’t listen. It was time for a change; time to get
serious about her training.
“Mick, I’m so sorry. I didn’t think, I just didn’t…think.”
handed her a glass of blood and indicated she needed to drink it. She
was starving it seemed, drinking that glass and another straight down.
Maybe part of what she had been feeling was hunger.
They carried their glasses that had been refilled into the living room and sat on the sofa, cuddling together as they spoke.
“I never thought about the danger; it put me and you into danger by my impulsive behavior. I’m so sorry.”
listened to her apology and knew that it was sincere; he never doubted
that. He was sorry too, for embarrassing her in front of everyone at
Tim and Mary’s house. He kissed the top of her head and slid an arm
around her, holding her close. “It’s okay baby. I know you didn’t mean
for this to happen. It’s just as much my fault as yours. I’m so sorry
you were so afraid.”
“I knew you were out there Mick, that you
wouldn’t leave me. I just didn’t anticipate the fact that I would need
you like that, although I was afraid I’d get lost trying to find home,”
she told him sheepishly.
She heard him chuckle, the low rumble reverberating through his chest. Wisely, he didn’t say a word.
hurt Mick was the fact that you don’t believe that I could taste those
things. I really can – I know you just don’t believe it, but it’s
“Beth, baby it’s impossible. Vampires can’t taste food. I
think – I think somehow that you just miss the taste of things and
imagine that you can still taste.” Privately, he thought that it was a
repercussion of her turning; just like he missed human things so did
she. She didn’t understand it yet, but that was surely what it was.
Then how do you think that I did the blind tastes and go everything
right? Hm Mick, tell me that?” Red hot anger was rising within her
He didn’t exactly know the answer to that – maybe it had
something to do with the scent; most likely that was it. When he told
her so she suddenly stood up, glaring at him.
“I am not imagining
it, or wishing it or any other thing. I tasted it all, whether you
believe me or not. And if you can’t, then what the hell are we doing
together in the first place?” She turned and ran up the stairs and he
heard the bedroom door slam.
This time he wondered not when she would cool down but if.
To be continued…